Leave in London
London suffered badly during the war caused by months of heavy bombing. With the arrival of large numbers of Commonwealth and American troops, it also became more cosmopolitan.
On emerging from the sooty and sulphurous smell of the station we came out into bright sunshine straight into another kind of hustle and bustle where numerous taxi-cabs that had to have been the same ones whose passengers were mainly service personnel back during the war years. I thought that these old boxy models had been scrapped a long time ago.
Anyway, these refugees from the 40's were still buzzing around helter-skelter every which way like they used to, and you never knew which way to look to dodge them. The last time I walked these same streets. It wasn’t the kind of London crowds I used to see in '45. Yet in another way, and I can't put my finger on it, this was the London I’d always found it to be, pulsing with energy and alive with promise of good times to come.
How could anyone who'd been in London during the war and experienced the throb of activity around the train and tube stations ever forget it? It was a time of electric excitement, to be sure. No other city in the U.K., not Birmingham, not Portsmouth, not Leeds, not even Glasgow could come close to matching London as the place to spend a weekend or a week's leave.
Private Stan Scislowski, Perth Regiment
Arthur Parker Kent was born to a Lacombe farm family in 1907. Aileen Marie Fears was the granddaughter of a Polish exile who became the first Sheriff of Medicine Hat.
Parker and Aileen met in Calgary in 1939. He was a reporter for the Calgary Herald, she was a recent graduate of the Holy Cross Hospital’s nursing school. Aileen taught Parker how to play bridge; he drove her around town in his drafty Ford roadster.
When war broke out in Europe, they both joined the Canadian Army at Currie Barracks. Parker was shipped out first as an infantry lieutenant.
When Aileen arrived in England as an Army nurse in January, 1942, she became the operating room assistant to the pioneering plastic surgeon, Harold Gillies, at the Canadian Army hospital near Basingstoke.
For a time, First Lieutenant Fears outranked her Calgary beau, but soon all was resolved. Parker was promoted to Captain and asked Aileen to marry him.
Returning to Calgary after the war, they raised five children. In 1972, Parker retired from his position as Associate Editor of The Herald. He passed away in 1982. Aileen remained an active volunteer, and bridge player, until her death in 2004, at the age of 90.
Percy Douglas Weyman enlisted in the Canadian Army at Calgary’s Currie Barracks at the age of 18. As he shipped out for England on board the Isle de France in January of 1940, he had no inkling of the challenges and adventures that lay ahead – least of all the happiness he would find with a young woman from Lancashire, Audrey Sarah Wood.
Doug was stationed with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in southern England. Injured in a traffic accident in London, he was sent to the Canadian Army hospital in Basingstoke, where Aileen Kent was stationed. The families have no way of knowing if the two might have met as nurse and patient.
Upon his recovery, Doug’s intuitive detective skills led to his posting with decoding units. Early in 1945, he was transferred to the Canadian Army CMHQ in Lancaster. There he met a clerk named Audrey Wood.
After a brief courtship, they were wed on September 15, 1945. Doug returned to Calgary in the spring of 1946, with Audrey and daughter Valerie following along in November. Together they raised three children in Calgary.
Doug served as a policeman for 30 years, and was a founding member of the Calgary Police Flying Club. Detective Weyman retired in 1976, and passed away in 1988, aged 67.